Homemade Cracker Jack-Style Caramel Popcorn with Peanuts
This method of popping corn is adapted from Alton Brown's brilliant carcinogen-free microwave popcorn recipe.
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn (this will make the end result super-caramelly; if you want it less sticky, use 2/3 cup unpopped popcorn)
4 teaspoons olive oil (5-6 teaspoons for 2/3 cup popcorn)
1 brown paper sandwich bag
1 piece of adhesive tape
1/2 cup shelled peanuts (Spanish if you have them)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon molasses (you can use 2 tablespoons if you love molasses)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put the popcorn in a brown paper bag (if you're using 2/3 cup, you might want to split it into two paper bags), pour in 4 teaspoons of olive oil (or more for the larger amount), and close the bag with a piece of tape. Heat it on high in the microwave for 3 minutes. Put it in a bowl.
Add the peanuts to the popcorn.
For the caramel, heat the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses and salt in a pan on the stove until the butter is melted and the sugar is smooth and not grainy anymore. Pour this mixture over the popcorn and peanuts, stirring well. Pour it all onto a cookie sheet and place in oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring once or twice. (It will be gooey and wet.)
Let air dry until crisp, then store in an airtight container until the first pitch.
(The cookie sheet will look dauntingly dirty, but hot water will easily erase all traces of sticky caramel sauce.)